Faith in Jesus Christ is not something that is concealed, but is something that is revealed. It is always outwardly visible in the life of the person who truly has it. In verse 1, the writer of Hebrews shows us how faith is given a clear definition, and now in verse 2, he explains how faith is visible through courageous devotion in the lives of those who possess it. Faith in the lives of the saints will always be on display. There is no such thing as a secret faith. True faith is always visible. It is tangibly seen in the life of the man or woman of faith.
First, notice the EXAMPLES of faith.
The Bible says that it was through faith that the “elders” obtained a good testimony. By referring to the elders, the writer of Hebrews is referring to those saints of old who are upheld throughout the remainder of the chapter as being examples for us to follow. Men like Abel, Enoch, and Noah were all great examples of faith. Abraham and Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses were all great examples of faith. These men and women were approved by God because of their faith in Him, not by anything else:
- Not by their talents and abilities
- Not by their superior intellect
- Not by their credentials
- Not by their impressive accomplishments
It was only by their faith that the saints of old obtained a good testimony. God is never impressed with man’s ability. Instead, God is looking for availability. He desires for believers to yield their lives to Him in faith and total surrender. I am encouraged when I read Hebrews 11 because I can really identify with the people who are mentioned. None of them were perfect. In fact, many of them made terrible blunders. By the world’s standards, they were zeroes instead of heroes. Yet God has recorded them in the pages of Scripture as examples of faith that we are to emulate.
Second, notice the ENDORSEMENT of their faith.
The Bible says in verse 2 that these elders in the faith “obtained a good testimony” through their display of faith in God. That simply means that God blessed their lives with His divine approval. In each example that he gives throughout the remainder of the chapter, the writer of Hebrews shows how God gave witness or divine approval to the person’s faith. Just how exactly did these elders of old obtain their report?
- Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice through faith.
- Enoch walked with God through faith.
- Noah was moved with godly fear and built an ark through faith.
- Abraham obeyed God and left his homeland through faith.
- Moses gave up luxury in Egypt and identified with God’s people through faith.
It was through faith that the walls of Jericho fell down flat. It was through faith that David stood before Goliath. It was through faith that the prophets stood against the ungodliness of their culture. It was through faith that Daniel went into the lions’ den. It was through faith that God’s Hall of Fame heroes willingly faced their own deaths and held on to what they knew to be true. It was only through faith that they demonstrated such fearless, courageous devotion to Him.
As we look back and consider the testimony of the elders, of those who have gone before us, we ought to ask this question of ourselves: “What about us?” How is faith clearly defined and courageously displayed in our lives? How are we walking in the opposite direction of the culture around us, and how are we powerfully demonstrating to a watching world our sold-out faith in Jesus Christ? If it was only through such faith that the elders of old obtained a good testimony, then we can rest assured that it will only be through faith that we obtain a good testimony.